The Whale of Waiting

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Driving down the road, headed home from dropping off a humbling set of paperwork, I caught myself verbally processing through quite a yelling tone why certain people from my past have been consecutively crossing paths with me again and appearing to all be living quite the carefree lives.

 

Sooo annoying.

 

I mean, I am totally happy for their success, but seeing them doing famously awesome has been really catching me off guard. For some reason, the nagging feeling as though I should be at the same level, progression, and achievements have paralleled itself with my perception of them.

 

As I sat in thought, I questioned what I am doing wrong with confusion.

 

Stop Caitlin. These were the cards dealt to you, not them.

 

Maybe it is a time of character building, soul shaping, or mind expanding that is taking place through this decade of what feels like a survival mode hustle I have been living. I know I am not alone in this though, whether it be financial, relational, spiritual, or mental, the sparring that comes in living life is something every human goes through and honestly, should be expected.

 

Ouch.

 

Painful as it is to accept, the reality of it is… it comes in waves, through every human heart there is a desire and need to “keep up with Joneses.”

 

*Laughter* I am a Jones and can’t even keep up with myself!

 

It’s a pressure unasked for, yet, invites itself into every avenue of each of our lives. As many know, if not controlled, it becomes oppressively infiltrative to all we think, do, and say.

 

It is a tug-o-war struggle between not caring too much where you are in your journey, but caring enough to make the necessary progress to keep on keepin on.   

 

We all know the story of Jonah and the whale right?

 

Looking for a home, waiting to hear back from the multiple positions I have tested and applied for, being the provider, yet having limited funds to provide with, all while balancing the different areas of life and the dreading anticipation of the coming schedule I am going to have this year, I shrug my shoulders in an almost defeated manner as I come to the book of Jonah in my reading through the bible today.

 

Really God?! What impeccable timing you have…

 

Being comfortable has never gotten anyone anywhere was all that came to mind.

 

*Big sigh*

 

Jonah didn’t want to leave his comfy spot, he didn’t want to obey what God had told him to do, and he sure didn’t want to help the people of Nineveh. 

 

He actually, with intentional purpose, knew for a fact he was running from the path he should have taken. AND yet, he still made it in the bible… 

 

Long story short, while the sea raged, the captain of the ship Jonah was on took lots to see who was the cause for this storm, and lo and behold, the lot landed on Jonah. They threw him overboard, the sea instantly became peaceful, and Jonah sat for three days and three nights in the belly of a whale before he humbled himself, prayed, and accepted the reality of his purpose in life.

 

I’m not THAT stubborn…

 

…am I God?

 

Yep, I am. We actually all are.

 

I thought I loved change, and most of the time I wholeheartedly accept it, but what stuck out to me is that no one truly enjoys being inconvenienced to an undesired change in life, no one. Obviously, the path we are suppose to take is going to happen whether it is wanted or not, and as many have come to learn, it always ends up working out in the end. So, maybe it is not the change that we dread, but the vulnerability and the anticipation that comes with it.

 

Just the other night I rebelliously vented how much of a hassle everything felt to a friend outside our gym. With a sober and contemplative expression she responded quietly with, “Hmm, well it seems like you’re learning a lot.”

 

She was right. This season is just another time to learn, grow, and continue to shape who I am becoming. With that, it is okay to be angry at the anxiety new normals bring as long as it does not cloud your being or consume your mind.

 

Whether the learning experience is a good one or a bad one, welcoming whatever comes is the key objective.

 

Case and point, this is my season to be in the belly of the whale and until I accept it, release any feelings of peer pressure or societies standards of where I should be, it will be a storm of resistance I’ll have to fight.    

 

God seems to be telling me loud and clear, through the most random of people, His word, memes, signs, parallels and pretty much any other way He can every day, to release the this weight that comes with change, and accept the wait for the change. That only He is the peace in the midst of the chaos and only He will bring the clarity to the confusion.

A constant and daily reminder to live a humble life, free of the need to control is for the foundation for a beautiful future.

 

Until we meet again,

-Caitlin

Road Trip to Canada

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Trip motto, just be.

 

A rekindled spark for climbing brought me back into the local climbing gym after a year off. The nostalgic essence of familiar faces and time spent there was thought about often. Finally taking the initiative to rebuild the community that time had so effortlessly dissolved, I timidly eased myself back onto the climbing wall.

 

This go around was different though.

 

I had a new mind, a new body, new emotions, reactions and conceptions. I was a new woman, even to myself. This time I was okay with failing. I appreciated my need for growth on a newfound level. I removed my impulse to feel judged or be hindered by intimidation. I had leveled up brain, body and soul, while all along being broken into new depths by humbling experiences. The layers of life lived had finally began to reveal the core of all that I should have been this whole time.

 

 

 

After forcing out the last two blog posts, I honestly felt defeated by life and the groundhog routines of a busy schedule seemed to consume every waking second. The therapeutic effects of writing and sharing my stories were put on  the back burner, and sadly my blogging was forgotten about. Interestingly enough though my brain had never stopped documenting. I would randomly catch myself typing passages into my phone, journaling short stories, and recording funny sayings. They started to shape themselves more prominently into my life as crossing signs that flagged my brain into new directions, and eventually, lead to a revelation that this life is to be experienced, embraced, and shared. Sometimes, all it takes is reading of the unknown to inspire that personal step forward.

 

It began as I was chalking my hands and recognized the voice of an old climbing friend. One short conversation of catching up lead to a casual invite for an upcoming road trip to Canada happening in six months.

 

It was as if a light switch flipped in my brain and sparked an electric response that surprised even myself as I straightforwardly stated I would be in that car to Canada. From the moment the words left my mouth, this adventure kept me chasing it. It ignited an excitement I had never experienced and bonded a commitment to myself that had only been a daydream for years.

 

The talk of the trip quickly turned into action only weeks later as I lay on my bedroom floor googling flights from Vancouver. I found a deal, and purchased the flight without thinking twice. No passport, no real idea of what to expect, except for the fact I had stoked a fire within that became addicting. Texting my friend a snapshot of the flight confirmation, his response hit me like a ton of bricks, “Wow. You were serious.”

 

Old school Caitlin would have gotten butt hurt or eventually would have found some excuse due to finances, schedule, or who knows what to have backed out, but instead, it only fueled my drive to embrace the unknown. Shortly after, I booked my passport appointment and ecstatically squealed when it came in the mail revealing one of the best hair day photos I had ever had.

 

IT WAS HAPPENING!

 

I started investing into a small Canada fund and methodically bought some necessary fundamentals I set aside for the trip alone. Every moving part started to align itself with this trip. The night before, I printed out a stack of photos and hung them around the house with notes to Noah, took the world’s longest shower, and stuffed last minute items into a backpack.

June 20th

At 3:30 in the morning my alarm went off. The exhilaration of knowing the adventure of a lifetime was only hours away killed any sleep that could have been.

 

Pulling up to Dwain’s a half hour later gave the best feeling, but like a goof, I quickly realized by the stank of burning brakes in the air I had driven with my emergency brake on the whole way there!

 

4:01 am, the truck was running and I was given shotgun. Darren and Zeke took back seat between backpacks, snacks and a mountain bike tire. Packed was an understatement, the truck was a moving funmobile stacked with crash pads, paddle boards, mountain bikes and camping gear.

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The first couple of stops were pee breaks and gas refills. Switching drivers right before San Francisco, I got to take us over the Golden Gate Bridge just before noon. By that afternoon, we were cruising through the rolling hills of San Gernimo, the green flats of Bodega Bay, and zoned out watching miles of Sonoma coastline fly by.

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We were making incredible time and decided to set up first camp on the Russian River at Saint Joseph’s Campground.

Riding on the handlebars, we biked ourselves down to the river for a swim. The water was perfect! An organic diving board of a log provided hours of entertainment as we celebrated a successful first day with a beer in the lake. Dwain and I finished the day peacefully paddle boarding down the river and explored a tree filled passage of water that bordered the backyards to beautifully rustic river homes. Since it was only my second time on a paddle board, I was playing with the give and take of balance and steering but unexpectedly hit a log under the water which launched me into the water with a disturbing splash. Cracking up, I awkwardly crawled myself back on the board and apologized for killing the tranquility. It was just another reminder from life to never get comfy. As we turned around to let the current float us back down the river, we got to see an otter playfully swim past as if we were nonexistent.  

June 21st

The day started with the bright and early morning tradition of “repack the truck tetris.”

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By 9 am we were driving through Salt Point State Park and pulled off to witness the stunning views of The Sea Ranch. Weathered stairs lead down to a pebbly beach with crystal clear waves and a mossy mini waterfall. The walk back up guided you down a meadowed pathway where early morning sun rays magically shown between the trees. It was the first stop that truly captivated my eyes and stole my heart.

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Driving through Manchester, we pulled alongside a herd of elk and past the Navarro River in Albion around 11 am.

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Cruising through Fort Bragg and the curving tree lined roads of Westport we pulled off for a side of the road stretch, snack, and handstand. 2pm we were in Humboldt County, and was stopped at the Redwood National and State Park visitor center a quarter to four.

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A walk along a trail through the Redwoods dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson was the next stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for a campground that wasn’t full, we stumbled upon Clifford Campground on the border of Oregon. Kamph was set up only feet away from the beach and the killer views of a colorful sun set illuminated the sky while a family style dinner of chili, fried potatoes, and cheeses got served.

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Rough driftwood accentuated the softest of sand and a night spent shooting photos on the beach capped off an incredible second day. A campfire was attempted, but since the wood was damp, it soon turned into a desperate smoke out leaving us with swollen eyes, uncontrollable tears, and a slightly melted air pump, sorry AC.

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June 22nd

10 am we were driving through Samuel H. Boardman State Park and by noon had hit Coos Bay and the Oregon Dunes in North Bend where Dwain had grown up.

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It was in Reedsport that Zeke and I discovered we were kindred coffee spirits. All along the drive, every espresso hut passed was a longed for stop. It was at this gas station which was so perfectly positioned across from a small house with bold letters that spelled espresso that caused one look to be exchanged signaling the “go” for both of us to take off running towards the shop. Though unsuccessful, it became a mutual mission to find coffee.

 

 

Around 3 pm we stopped off at the Sea Lion Caves in Florence and by 5:45 had hit Tillamook!

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6pm we were excitedly barreling through the doors of the Tillamook Cheese Factory. The line to the free samples was definitely taken advantage of, and I topped off the tour with a bowl of mocha pecan ice cream, which was absolutely to die for, and oh so dangerous if I lived anywhere near that factory.

 

 

 

Continuing my run of the road, I drove us down hairpin turns to a secluded gem in the Ecola State Park, Indian Beach.

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It was 7:30 pm and disappointed there was no campground, we explored the fascinating squeaky sands and forested coastline.

gypcjonesAt 9:30 pm we pulled into Fort Stevens State Park just in time to get a site. Since it was mosquito nation, the deet was busted out and any skin showing covered. Dinner of different soups was made and scarfed quickly. Priding myself in being raised with camping card games, I really thought learning Kings in the Corner would be no problem, but my goodness, was I sorely mistaken. I lost almost every round, lost any card pride competitiveness I thought I had, and to top it off, accidentally opened and drank a $15 dollar specialty beer that Dwain had just bought from the Tillamook Factory… Oops.

 

June 23rd

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Laying in our sleeping bags, the early morning hour was opened with a laugh filled apology to Dwain for drinking his prized beer. An early morning skateboard cruise through the forest enlightened the start to a beautiful third day. With every pump, I became more invested in the moment, soaking up the brisk air and saturating my eyes with the colors of the forest.

 

 

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Again, another game of “pack the truck tetris” was in play when I got back to camp and to entertain myself, I started experimenting with forearm stands on the Yeti cooler. I nailed one! Taking it to the next level I began to switch my legs slowly to my off side and got so excited I arched too far back. It went way past saving, ending in me getting catapulted off the other side and into a face plant hitting the pavement busting out two bloody kneecaps and cheese grated hands. YES, success, and a couple battle wounds on top of that made the accomplishment even cooler in my brain.

“Dammit Caitlin! Sit down,” Darren shouted sternly through the laughs.

 

 

Swinging by the Fort Stevens State Park Beach on our way out, Dwain surprised us as he turned onto the sand and started accelerating down the beach only feet from the crashing waves. Pieces of huge sand dollars covered the tide lines while pockets of sand crabs soaked in warm pools of water around the remnants of a shipwreck that was the focal point of exploration.  gypcjones

By 10 am we were crossing the Columbia River through North Bend, and a couple hours later, Zeke and I finally got the drivers to stop at an espresso hut called Timber Grounds overlooking one of the most breathtaking views of water, land, sky, and trees.

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The hours and land that passed coincided nicely with the silence inside the truck. Wind from the open windows lullabied the cab and an occasional switch in body positions would call for a few words exchanged, but soon would slip back into the tranquil mediation of watching the scenery blend together. This was my favorite part of our trip. It left me with a feeling of gratitude and appreciation for the people I was experiencing this with. No words were needed for bonding that was taking place.

A game of using the wind to place and keep pennies on each finger kept us entertained breaking the driving silence. 

The drive through Hoquiam, Washington was joked to be the Sun City of the Northwest and by 1 pm we had entered Olympic National Park and discovered a refreshing break on a trail in the Quinault Rain Forest. 

Massive trees loomed in every direction shadowing the dirt pathway. Every shade of green a brain could possibly imagine painted the scenery. Hearing the sound of running water, we took off down a bendy side trail that lead to a wooden bridge crossing over a crystal clear rushing stream.

Desperate for a rinse, we dunked and scrubbed and splashed our heads and pits.

Back on the path, the oddest of tree formations were tucked along the trail with banana slugs clinging to all sorts of foliage.

 

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Darren and Zeke, fascinated with a big, juicy Dijon mustard colored slug held him in their hands. They mischievously joked that licking a slug numbs the tongue. With a dare in his voice Zeke states, “I’ll do it if you do it,” and proceeds with every square inch of his tongue to lick the poor banana slug from bottom to top. I know for a fact time stopped as the guys watched my wheels turn comprehending what had just happened. Before I knew it, my tongue quickly licked the slug too! To say the least, the slug had zero numbing power, and probably felt absolutely violated by the two crazy Californians.

 

 

With Ozzy’s Boneyard on blast, we hit the road again and stopped off to take in the winsome views of Forks along the Washington Coastline. 

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A quarter to four we were almost to the tip of Washington as we passed passed through Beaver, passing Crescent Lake, and were finally closing the gap to Port Angeles! The energy in the car seemed to increase the closer the ferry got. Reading up on the amount of alcohol permitted to cross the border, we unanimously stocked the exact amount of beer and made the ferry with ten minutes to spare. 

It was the first time my passport had been asked for and I was stoked to hand it over. Except, I had tried to be a proactive traveler and stuck it in a waterproof travel pouch that it actually ended up getting stuck in. Slight panic mode hit as I realized I was the only one everyone was waiting on, and throwing a little tissy fit, I shook the pouch uncontrollably like a toddler with a locked ziplock baggie. Darren came to the rescue… phew, a little embarrassing, but it didn’t stop us from driving on the ferry only minutes later.

At 5:15 the ferries engine rumbled and we slowly crept further and further away from the United States. I have to say, I did feel somewhat guilty as the distance became greater between me and the States. The more it went out of sight, the more alive I felt. I had left the country and I was on top of the world!

Hand-standing on the different decks, I attempted to get an invite up to the captain’s cabin. Though unsuccessful, he and his mate laughed and applauded my efforts.gypcjones

 

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It was now 7:00 pm and we drove through customs where we were asked pull aside for a secondary check. Dwain did most of the talking as the officer questioned each of us our jobs, trip intentions, and activities planned for our time spent in Canada. When it got to the list of questions regarding fruit, I openly admitted to bringing two white peaches… the laughing officer disregarded it, but did comment on how precisely planned the exact amount of allowed beers was brought in. Soon enough we driving out of the port. 

 

Downtown Victoria Island was beautiful. Old buildings with intricate details scaped the scenery throughout the city. Around 8 pm we stopped in to withdraw some Canadian money from a local drugstore and pick up last minute groceries before our two hour trek to the campground at Horne Lake. While at the atm, Dwain held out his money and asked how it smelt. I of course, being completely indiscreet squeal, “Whoa! It does smell like maple syrup.” The guys, embarrassed to all means, told me to take my excitement down a notch and get out of there. Eeek! Sorry guys, such a newb.

Travel lesson number one, no matter how yummy the money smells, don’t react.

The last stretch to the campground was a little rough and unbearable for everyone. By midnight, camp was set up, beers were cracked, and a recap of the day under the stars filled with laughs and caterpillars.

June 24th

I woke before everyone else and walked to the lake which allowed my senses to recharge. The hour spent alone gave way to me becoming completely immersed in the beauty of being still before God and his break-taking creations.

gypcjonesA flowy stretch sesh by the glassy water was filled with toasty sun rays and chirping melodies of sweet birds. Jogging back to camp I came across a snake that I tried to help, but fearfully stared at instead. Remember those words. The poor guy needed to be moved off the road, but I just couldn’t bring myself to touch him.

Dwain had the paddle boards ready to rock and I joined him for what turned into hours of exploration as we outlined a third of the massive lake. You could see down for feet below the water, and at certain points the clarity would drop off into depths of pitch blackness. We perused a shady lagoon with a waterfall where we parked our boards and scrambled across and up into the moss covered rock formations. Sitting in the midst of this mini oasis we talked life and drifted carelessly back into the lake. Paddling towards an island, we again pulled off to park and climb up to only be amazed yet again by the intense vastness of the lake and mountains. The mountain face was striped with different shades of rustic browns and grays that seemed to perfectly frame the outline of the sapphire colors of the lake.

Getting back to camp, Darrin and Zeke had rustled up their specialty of chili cheese potatoes naming it Horne Lake Stew. As we visited and laughed and ate together, this became another sweet moment in the adventure that filled my heart with contentedness and was tucked away in my brain’s Rolodex of irreplaceable memories.

 

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Around 2 pm we eagerly got ready to explore the multiple caves Horne Lake is known for. The bubbling curves of rock tunneled tight passageways through the ground of the Lower Cave. Though this one was short, the formations were fascinating. 

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The second cave named Andre’s Annex was 54 meters long and a plaque stating “Enter at your own risk”  was where it all got real. As we entered through a triangular hole in the side of a hill, we cautiously lowered ourselves deeper into the earth with only the light of our headlamps guiding our way to a roped in ladder that dropped into a closet sized corridor. The smell was crisp and earthy, the sounds of dripping water consistent, and the iciness of cold air encased your body. Following Dwain, I was number two through the crawlspace that narrowed quickly into a tunnel you had to army crawl through. Regulated breathing and convincing your brain this was totally normal became the name of the game as we belly dragged our bodies through the muddy tunnels. After hitting a dead end, and now back in the corridor, we sat in a daze watching our steaming bodies look as if we were smoking through our clothes.

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On our way back to the truck we ran into the first of women I couldn’t resist but be inspired by. Her golden blonde hair tied back bared the natural features of a makeupless face accentuating the roughness of her bright red cave guide jumper. Her smile was infectious as she chatted up our plans and shared secret spots known only by the locals. As we walked away, I couldn’t help but blown away by how badass it was to see such a beauty fearlessly guiding cave tours and stoked to welcome the newcomers to the area.

A bathtime in the lake, followed by a beer on the shore in the sun to dry off made dinnertime only that much better. We had found a natural groove between the four of us and organically became sympatico in all we did. 

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Zeke had mentioned he wanted to go snake hunting and threw me an invite to join him. Detailing how they sound in the tall grass beside the water, we walked through the sun heated brush taking big and methodical steps. After a decent amount of hunting, we walked back to our bikes to have the pleasant surprise to of an olive green garter snake rustling the brush below. Slithering over two folds of Zeke’s hands I refused to allow my brain to consider any predispositions I might have had before and followed his rhythm as the snake transferred from his hands to mine. The calming sensation between the snake and I paralleled themselves as I could feel both of our heart rates decrease. It was empowering to know that a wild animal felt comfortable enough to relax into my embrace. Before I knew it, the little guy launched himself back to the ground and disappeared from sight. An ecstatic ear to ear grin was exchanged between Zeke and I as we recapped what had just happened like little kids on Christmas.  I WAS SO PUMPED. I had faced a fear, and won. 

 

 

On the side note, if you ever come across an individual that takes you out of your comfort zone so naturally they are worth every effort to keep as a friend forever. You never know what you may learn about yourself, overcome, or all along had the potential to do, feel and be.

Topping off the hunt, I road my first trail through a wood lined pathway on a mountain bike and attempted hitting every possible rock, root or tree stump I could find just to say I did!

 

Dwain was napping when we got back to camp, and Darrin was making a great effort at trying to reorganize the back of the truck again. By midnight, we were knees deep in card games and belly laughs.

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June 25th

Starting the morning off by the lake again, we were about to hit our final stretch of road. By 10 am, we had reached our second ferry ride from Nanaimo to Vancouver. Once again, I filled my time with handstands and back walk overs on the front deck while Dwain read. Walking the boat, I found the washrooms where a woman and I started exchanging stories of Instagram fitness ladies we follow. She ended up being an owner of a salon and did my makeup as we exchanged contact info to keep in touch. Continuing my walk around the ship, I passed a couple on the smoking deck that caught my attention. As I was walking by something in my brain told me to go back and bum a cig. I have to say, it was totally worth it because I ended spending the rest of the time visiting with them and their awesome friends about travel, society, art and life.

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We too exchanged Instagrams, and promised to keep in touch in hopes to coordinate a visit the next time they get out to California.

At 1pm we docked at the BC Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal and were on our way to our final destination, Squamish!

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It was about 26 miles outside of Vancouver and lining the highway was the beautiful sound. Catching sight of the Big Chief for the first time was jaw dropping. We parked, payed, and set up camp as fast as we could to be able to have enough light to get our hands on the rock and do our first multi pitch of the trip. By 7 pm, we snapped photos on top a two pitch climb overlooking the stunning sunset skies of Squamish.

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June 26th

This was the first day of a real rock schooling from Darren and Dwain to Zeke and I. They took us from beginning to end, through gear, anchors, knots, tips, tricks, methods and techniques. By 11:30, I was climbing my first crack, ever.

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Since I was cleaning the gear, I followed Dwain, and was given a chance to learn how body, gear and rock work together when done correctly. Cruising over to Shannon Falls, we completed the five pitch climb, Skywalker. 

At the top of the third pitch, which was an over exposed traverse hundreds of feet looming on a curved cliff, a steel plate rested above one of the anchor bolts engraved with the propelling words, “May the force be with you.” Reaching the top felt like we had defeated the dark side in an epic battle. It is mind blowing how all time, feelings and thoughts stop when you’re climbing, especially that many feet above the ground. It is as if your body has one mission in mind, and that one mission is to keep going up, no slowing down, no stopping.

By that time I had become awfully hangry… poor Dwain. The one and only mission that consumed my mind was food. A nasty tree stump skinned my already skinned knee on the down hilled hike and after minutes of convincing myself big girls don’t cry, I was laughing with Dwain again as we trekked our tired bodies back to the truck. Knowing it had been a long day without any breakfast, Darren and Zeke were in the midst of cooking up dinner as we walked up. It was magical. My first words out of my mouth claimed a whole new love for them, “You guys just keep getting cooler and cooler!” Who knew chili cheese potatoes and a bag of chips would have become the bombest tasting meal I had ever eaten. Napping in the parking lot we absorbed the incredible feeling of accomplishment and a full belly.

Back at the camp parking lot we visited with neighboring campers, had a few celebratory beers of course, and topped off the night with some face in the gravel assisted stretching to help loosen up those achy harness muscles.

June 27th

 

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A no breakfast or coffee morning was not going to be the start to this morning and since I was the first one up, I decided to take the initiative to wake the guys with coffee and breakfast to their tents. By noon, we were in Murrin Provincial Park learning how to use trad gear, build our own anchors, set up a top belays, and were being graded on our leading and placing gear skills. The first 5.4 climb Dwain graded me on got a C, but the second, he gave me an A and continuing to specify that though it was not an A+, he did praise my efforts at being a great student! Zeke and I took what we learned and climbed our first route outside our teachers with each other. There is an interesting dynamic that takes place in the brain being a new climber and having only experienced one partner you have built trust with. Just another life lesson to never get comfy. The next route on our list was a 5.11a that I refused to be defeated by. After watching Darren tactfully ascend the beautiful movements the rock positioned you in, I felt compelled to try it. If there was a word for an emoji eye roll, it would go right here, right now. I worked this climb with such determination I completely exhausted myself for the rest of the day. Though I used two of the draws to help me out of a pickle, I completed the route. Disappointed I cheated, I let it go, and accepted the fact that without the help, I would not have known I was capable to have pushed my body and muscles that far. 

 

That night Dwain and Darren picked up Kevin and AC who flew in and were bused to the Squamish Activity Center at 8 pm. Zeke and I took that time to build some thigh muscles with a gnarly bike ride to town for a short wifi sesh. Finishing the day off with some dimly lit night bouldering, the darkness of night finally capped off the full day around 1 am.gypcjonesgypcjones

 June 28th

The crew kicked off the day with a bang. We rappelled 400 feet down into a gully next to fiercely raging rapids and climbed our way through three, somewhat exposed but mild routes. The first one Dwain and I started. Much to my dismay it was the passport situation all over again. I had forgotten the vital piece of information that when you top belay the bottom locking carabiner should not be attached to anything… I had to have redone it about 20 times but just could not figure out what I was doing wrong. Dwain had already started climbing thinking I was confidently belaying him when in all reality my hand waved the belay device out and a panicked yell shot out muffled by the rapids of “I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong!” It was about two minutes of frustrated impatience on both our parts, but thank God it clicked in my brain and figured the correct set up by the time Dwain topped out of the climb. Eek! Humbled, yet again, I felt beyond blessed to have know such an incredible and understanding friend forcing me keep on going without any negative responses. Bonding moment on a whole new level.

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As we rested and game planned back at the truck, I did my longest handstand I’ve ever done. Yay!! We decided to head over to Cheakamus Canyon where we climbed a handful of routes and a falling lesson was given by Dwain to me. He recommended that it was time to learn how trust the system by getting to the top of the route and letting go. I made it a point to not think about the upcoming fall while I climbed, then surprised myself as came to the second to the last draw and instead of clipping, I let my hands slide off and fell the five feet to the last draw! So exciting! It makes my palms sweat just thinking about it. Dwain locked off, and congratulated the fearless accomplishment. The guys had me clean the next couple of routes, and again, I got to learn how to trust another belay partner on one specifically challenging route that I finished without any takes! It was all starting to click. Brain and body began to fall into a synchronizing pattern and I was slowly becoming absolutely captivated with the sensation climbing gives.

 

Stopping off to check out the rapids of the Cheakamus River and the bungee jumping hut positioned perfectly over and above the turquoise waters we piled back into the truck to find a lake to bathe in on our way to Whistler for dinner.

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As we slowed our roll spying out spots for a bath, we just couldn’t seem to find a body of water suitable. U-turning to check out a spot off the 99 we parked on the side of a hole encircled by trees. Tiptoeing across a wooden plank to a cockeyed dock, the murky brown and green colors of a muddy bog sat looking back at us. I am sure there was about a minute we all stood there processing if it was really worth it, and funny enough, it totally was. Five days without a rinse makes any slime hole look appetizing. Dwain bravely kicked off the line up as five out of the six of us slipped into the water and onto the standing log below the deck. Soap was was passed around like a hot potato and scrubbing hands to unseen places. Kevin stood on the deck repeating, “Oh heck no,” and ended up capturing the raw humor of what was taking place.

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Feeling like a whole new crew, we pulled into the village of Whistler, parked, and the second the car doors opened, we took in the infectious energy of this rad little mountain town.  

It was a mountain biker’s paradise as lifts moved up and down the mountain with riders and bikes following. Tracks were being constructed and an equal amount of men and women filled the waiting lines. It was captivating.

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A hot meal and pitchers of beer was beyond enjoyed as we visited with our server and exchanged info to keep in touch. Taking a minute away from the guys, I went back upstairs and ended up having a hilarious conversation with the head chef and his buddy. Darren was the first one to join our company. Commenting on the fact I was reaching my daily friend limit, I comprehended that aspect of myself. I have no problem sparking personable connections with strangers, but it always seems to be fostering them that I need to become better at. I may come across extroverted, but as time passes I fall into a weird, introverted nature. It was an epiphany I felt compelled to refine as it hit me.

June 29th

It started like any other morning, but took a turn as I visited with this rad little lady named Elise in the parking lot as I made my coffee. Every morning we would bounce the similar details of our lives back and forth. She would finish every conversation with an invite to join her climbing. Nonchalantly, I would respond that I was totally gun-ho, but felt completely intimidated to go without any of the guys. She left me with a statement that morning that made an impact, “It’s important for woman to climb with other women,” she dropped as she walked back to her car. Sitting in the cab, I looked at Dwain and asked what he thought, he casually stated he trusted her and his time teaching me would have been a waste if I wasn’t going to actually put it to use…

 

“I’ll be ready in an hour,” I yelled across without a second thought!

 

Here goes. Dropping coffee and breakfast off to the guy’s tent I asked to borrow some gear and told them I’d be back around four. After buckling up, Elise handed me the guidebook and delegated my responsibility to be navigator of the trip. “Your kidding right?!?” was my first thought. I shifted my mindset and breathed my trip matra, just be. You got this Caitlin, just learn to read the guidebook. These books had always been so foreign to me, but within the half hour I got us there, and we were climbing by 11 am. Our first was a two pitch climb called Charlotte’s Web. She led the first and I led the second. Enjoying the views we shared our hearts, had some of the best girl talk that was long overdo, and I ultimately got to learn some key points of climbing as a woman. So rad!

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The second climb, Sacrilege, was a 240 foot, three pitch sport climb that I started off leading, and Elise took the last two pitches. Catching an unexpected fall confirmed my hands and brain can be trusted! Two long repels ended it in an avatar like experience that lowered you dangling down into an overhung canyon filled with watching climbers.

 

Ready for a swim, we drove for what seemed like forever down a beaten path to a secret zipline our waiter from Whistler had mentioned. Staring at the massive tree that had about fifteen nailed boards leading up to a two foot plank of wood working as a seat, Elise and I exchanged a skeptical look as she broke the silence with, “You wanna go first?”

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I probably said okay about ten times as I hiked each foot to the next step. Cautiously stepping onto the makeshift plank seat, I slowly pulled in the handles which were two rope loops. I said my last okay as I simultaneously slide my butt off the plank fifteen feet above the water. Rolling towards the middle of the line, it caught the end, struck a pose and dropped into the best feeling water! After a couple more runs and a belly flop, we made our way back into town.

 

I honestly had grown to miss the company of our crew over the day. There was a mutual embrace of contentment to be back together again when I saw them and while snacking on the parking lot ground, Elise and I excitedly recapped the day’s adventure. That night we finished off with some epic bouldering and beers. My hands were shredded, two blood blisters popped and my failing muscles made it more of a shut down session than ascension, but I came to appreciate and learn from the talents of the crew’s climbing strength and yet again, had mad respect for another bad ass lady.

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June 30th

Friday came all too fast. I barely slept knowing it was my last day spent in this magical adventure. Each face that came to breakfast felt my heartache and turned my frown upside down as they hugged it out with me. Deciding the day should be spent climbing we headed back over to Cal-Cheak were Elise and I had climbed the day before.

Laughing at Zeke’s and mine drive to jump the nest, we headed over to our first multi pitch, Emil and the Detectives without our Jedi masters. A humorous conversation confirming the rapids belay mistake was a thing of the past, Zeke gave a quick head nod and started leading the first pitch. Leading the second, mishap free, we made it to the top and got to enjoy the climbing and views with a new notch under our belt. A high five sealed the accomplishment as we repelled down stoked to have done what we just did.


 

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Back with the group, we soberly took in the last hours we were going to have in each other’s company being surrounded among the trees and mountain faces. I busted out one of my last handstands on Canadian soil after capturing the original road crew in their element.

 

Driving us back into town and what we had called home for over a week, we stopped off to check out Alice Lake, then headed for a going away burger and beer overlooking the river to the sound.

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Walking down to the water, we shocked our bodies with the piercing temperatures of a quick bath, scrubbing like we’ve never scrubbed before. Strolling back with Dwain, I couldn’t help but express how thankful I was he had invited me. As we walked back to a bench with panoramic views, my eyes welled up with tears. It unfairly seemed that the colors and elegance of the sunset skies, glistening waters, and cascading mountains teased me that they got to stay and I had to leave. Emotions of bittersweet gratitude flooded my being from head to toe as we all sat in silence.

 

Making a few stops along the way back to camp, each of the guys surprised me with some of my favorite things to drink or eat. Tailgating, we went through every detail from my probably being blown by now to these last moments. A few games of cards finished the sweet time, and then it came, I was zipping up my sleeping bag.

 

Dwain dropped me off at the airport at 7 am, and a couple of hugs later I was walking into the airport with the biggest smile on my face. It was my time. If it wasn’t for Noah, I probably would have never let the adventure end.

Unfortunately, I had missed my boarding call by ten minutes and my flight took off without me. High on life, I didn’t let the impossibly stubborn booking attendant bring me down and soon had booked another flight for 2pm.

 

The morning was spent mosing around the airport with a coffee and snack until I found a comfy place to sit and start writing. Across from me sat the first of interesting individuals I crossed paths with. He was a director from LA filming an upcoming apocalypse series that kindly lent me the wall plug for my phone charger. Starving, I started another walk through the carpeted terminal until I caught eye of a Thai food joint and got in line. Asking the guy in front of me if the food was good, he commented he had no idea which ended striking up a conversation that lead to us sitting on the airport floor eating our lunch together. With another couple hours to kill, I walked to my gate, and killed some time doing headstands on the conveyor belt, grabbed some more snacks, and accidentally walked myself into the men’s restroom! Deciding that sitting myself down was probably the safer way to go from there on out, I mundanely swiped through Instagram until an elegant European women chose to sit down right next to me. She had some of the best poise and style I had ever seen, and within minutes we were talking of shoes and travels. So engulfed in our conversation, I missed my priority boarding call, but got to jump right in line and a hasty promise to exhange numbers with each other as soon as we landed was made. Almost knocking out every aisle seat with my skateboard sliding out of my backpack, I finagled my way to the window seat of 13 A. With a smile on his face, the man sitting next to me jumped up and came to my rescue loading my overhead luggage without a moment’s notice. The next four hours were filled with diverse conversations of mentalities, ideologies, and experiences. Landing we decided it was fate this crossing of paths happened, and promised to keep in touch as we parted our ways.

 

Getting picked up by a dear friend, it was heartwarming to see the first of familiar faces. Photos and brief stories capped off the night with my parents as I ate everything I saw in our kitchen. A long shower revealed the beauty of every cut, scrape and bruise my body bared.

 

That next morning as I layed in my bed, my mind raced through what I had just experienced. Choking up by the change that had taken place in my brain, body, and soul, I felt simplified and marked with a new sense of freedom. A hope to get right back out there, places to go, and people to see syndrome now charges every square inch of my being. Its go time now, and the adventures waiting to be had are just too many to number. There is now no holding back for me.

 

Quoted perfectly from a Cotton Jones song Elise shared with me, I can freely say “Home, is where you stop for a minute to clean your teeth.”

 

Until we meet again, Pura Vida baby!

-Caitlin

 

 

Children and Community

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Sharing stories is one way to create intimate bonds with others. As you listen to their words and unconsciously find your head nodding along strongly with each and every one, you come to find you are not alone in your stories, whether past or present. At one point or another, there is a comfort in knowing the two of you have shared the same footprints in that certain experience.

 

A dear friend recently shared with me in a text the following words, “praying for community for you”. Being just fresh off the hibernation train, I hadn’t really minded my time flying solo. Now though, the words resonated deep within and there was an urge to discover that community.

 

To find that kindredness in like minded friendships.

 

With new desires flooding my heart, I have come to a place that everything I once had wanted, even not that long ago, is no more. The things I had thought worked, didn’t for me any longer. Change was apparent, and trying to make sense of the newness in my life, brain and heart, I was unsure where to start in moving forward but to do the exact opposite of what I used to do.  

 

I want to be the first say, it’s okay to change. Change is healthy. Though I am finding I have to remind myself of those words, sometimes that change can be awkward.

 

The insecurity of walking fully into change is undeniable.

 

Following God’s lead, I walked myself into the children’s ministry office and asked to be put to use for the upcoming vbs. Not expecting the powerful outcome that was to come, I figured serving to be a great way to refocus my attention on things that really matter, and what better of a time to put myself out there than now. I had avidly dodged most social interaction during the pregnancy, but now it was time to change that. It was time to be part of a community. As the days leading up to it came and vbs went, the blessing of being surrounded by hearts that love Jesus came full circle. For so long I had desired this, but sadly when it came time, always seemed inconvenient to me and going back to what was comfy, simpler.

 

Who knew my world would be so rocked by this experience!

 

Reflecting back on this week, I can honestly say by making that choice, I am just in the beginning stages of the community God has in store for me. Not only were new and dear friendships sparked, but I got to be part of blessing over 300 children, or should I say, the reality was them who blessed me. Watching them interact with the pureness of life and friendship they freely gave one another helped me admire God’s beauty on a greater scale. Children are an absolute wellspring of joy, simplifying life to exactly what it should be, loving Jesus, loving each other, and fearlessly embracing the changing times.
With love, I pray you too find community and the beautiful childlike spirit just waiting to burst out.

 

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”  Isaiah 43:19

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Pen to Paper

Pen Paper Writing Blog

The blinking of the cursor on a blank document was something I had been looking at for days.

Multiple times I attempted to start writing another blog. For some reason though, I was stumped and sure had hoped I would never reach this hurdle. Writing out the adoption story had flowed so effortlessly, but this time starting was a struggle.

Where do I go from here? What could possibly be as amazing as what I had started with?

After that two week mark, everything slowly began to change. The adrenaline had faded, the story was written, and reality struck like lightning, fast and furious. It was probably a mix of accepting what life was now and that a new chapter had truly begun. Along with a dash of healing hormones, I felt my grip slipping on my emotions.

An irritating impatience began to creep in. Many times throughout the day, my prayers would be filled with asking for mental clarity, joy and a gentle and quiet spirit. The almost unrealistic peace I had experienced seemed to have vanished. My brain was in a fog. Home life was tense, car had broken down, a new college class been started and I had an 8th birthday to throw in a week, not to mention the hormonal waves that would express themselves randomly, there seemed to be utter turmoil stirring up within me.

I genuinely felt at a lost for words.

Survival mode. Ok. I’ve got this.

It wasn’t until one of my nightly walks I had taken and cried through shamelessly behind my sunglasses that I realized where I had yet again, humanly gone wrong. I obviously don’t have this. I, like Peter, had launched myself out in faith, took my eyes off Jesus and in a split second, began to sink.

A quote by Beth Moore had put these past two weeks perfectly into perspective, “The path to peace is paved with knee prints.”

It was not my duty to worry about the words. It was my duty to pray. It was my duty to give it all to God. It was my duty to make peace with my family. To humble myself, borrow the $1100 dollars from my dad, and get my car fixed. To give my very best effort in school, throw an awesome party for Noah and simply be content with the now.

Ugh! FINE!

Just kidding. I humorously envisioned myself in the presence of God having the nerve to respond with a scrunch of my nose and a stomp of my foot like I really knew better. It was though with a big sigh that I came to terms with the fact that the only thing I was to do now, was to continue to let go and let God. A gentle whisper instilled three words, pen to paper.

It was time to write.

Not that the stories would be anything like the adoption story. Or, even be as easy to write about. It was God nudging me to simply write. To follow His lead. To be real. To continue putting the words He gave me out there.

When faced with the wide variety of days life likes to dish out, there is a certain healthiness to search out ways to make sense of them. My secret weapon, besides God of course, has been writing. Whether good or bad, male or female, writer or not, speaking the words to a phone, typing them, or going old school with a pen and paper, documenting what is in your brain exposes what is in your heart. It shapes a new reality, perspective and harvests a deeper understanding.

Revealing unexpected truth, it brings nothing but a sweet gift of relief.

Starting my journaling at the age of eight, most of my first journals explained, in great detail might I add, what happened throughout that day or week. Then, over the course of the years, my writing began to develop into an outlet. Almost like a savory conversation with a dear friend, a bond had been created. Writing slows down time, allowing me the chance to breathe and think while shifting what seems to be a discombobulated brain into balance .

I find I write my way to peace. Paired with a good cry at times, my heart pours itself out, in joy or sorrow, my brain reboots and moving forward is only made easier.

Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Because most humans fight stillness, or have been programmed to categorize being still as too much work, time and energy to get to, there is a missed opportunity of experiencing a peace that surpasses understanding. Personally, brain emptying in yoga or zoning out on tv don’t seem to be real sources of stillness, but one of many quick bandaids. To discover one that fills the soul with rest, the brain with clarity and gives real relief to the heart, take the chance to get to know yourself on a deeper, sometimes scarier level.

Write when you’re mad. Vent when you’re angry. Write to the person that hurt you, tell them why, then throw out the letter. Write about your day or something that stood out in the week. Document your vacation. Note on your day planner what you remember in a dream or a line from a movie. Write what you’re thankful for. Or jot down a bucket list. Write about writing. Write whatever comes to mind, unfiltered. Don’t write though if it feels like a task, or pressure yourself into it, but find time, whether 5 minutes or 5 hours, once a week or once a day, devote them to experience a time of stillness in writing. Allow yourself the opportunity to get to know who you really are from the inside out.

Through being still you bridge the gap between you and God. Through writing, you better understand why you operate the way you do. Put the two together and discover not only a wellspring of unexplainable peace, but a sweet relief to all that’s been building inside.

 

 

“May the Lord bring good to you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be kind to you. May the Lord show favor to you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Please don’t hesitate any hankering to comment :))

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Postpartum Healing

Postpartum Healing Baby Lincoln Adoption

 

Following that amazing hour after Lincoln’s delivery, Jonathan and Kristen were given a room across the hall from my postpartum room. Before parting paths, we agreed not to leave each other out on visiting family members.

 

Shari asked if I was able to stand, and using her as a support we got me to the bathroom and then to the wheelchair for the move over to postpartum around 3:00 pm.

 

I felt strong. Slow, but strong for the most part. I was on a mental and spiritual high, and physically still had some adrenaline pumping. Exhaustion hadn’t really kicked into gear yet, but hunger had. Following that pudding earlier, I had eaten some of my spaghetti and meatballs, mostly the bomb turkey meatballs, but wasn’t too interested in any other food until now though, I felt starved. One of our ICA workers made sure to get me a smoothie, which is becoming quite my personal trend after pushing out a baby. (After Noah, I begged his dad to sneak me in a smoothie. It was all I wanted and could think about but due to complications, was limited to an ice chips only diet. With my nazi nurse keeping a close eye on me, a sneaky plan of attack to keep it in front of him and not me would have worked if I had not spilled it all over my bed! I demanded he take the blame and he begrudgingly did. Thankfully this smoothie experience was without spills and happily enjoyed!)

 

After getting me into my postpartum room, which fit me and my momma perfectly, we began to set up shop. She reorganized to make one of the pull out beds for herself fit snugly next to my bed and we finally got the chance to take in what had transpired. We snacked on some pastries and discussed how incredible the experience had been. My mom continued to mention that this wasn’t just a God thing, it was a miracle that had taken place.  

 

Kristen, her sister, adorable nephew and sweet little Lucy swung by for a visit awhile later. It was awesome and only the beginning to meeting the beautiful family members that not only had prayed for this baby to come, but now would be surrounding him as his family for the rest of his life.

 

Intermittently, my nurse would come in to check my vitals, bring motrin or give the dreaded fundal massage, which aids in controlling bleeding and shrinking the uterus. I don’t remember this with Noah, but I guess for proper healing to take place, it must be done every couple hours and is simply uncomfortable. Going to the bathroom was a two man job, though my bleeding seemed to really slow down quickly, the process took my mom’s help for the most part and my muscles were still regaining their strength.

 

Kristen shot me a text  that Jonathan’s sister was there with her husband and son, and would love to meet me if I was up for it. Heck yes! I  just needed to get the clear from my nurse and was there. Once cleared to go, we headed over to meet them and enjoyed yet another great time of visiting.

 

Calling it an early night, we watched a little tv while eating our patti melts then hit the hay. My mom seemed to sleep soundly and I got a good amount of sleep between the every two hour check ups from my nurse. Around 4 am, a nurse came in to draw my blood and not being a big fan of getting my blood drawn, or needles in general, I took advantage of being half asleep and turned my head to the other side drowsily. It was absolutely the best way to get blood drawn for any needle-phobic out there.

Baby Lincoln Adoption Postpartum

I woke up about 6 am and because my mom was still sleeping, started scrolling through my instagram feed. Kristen had posted an adorable photo of a perfectly bundled Lincoln sleeping soundly, and the photo along with the sweet words under it brought tears to my eyes. It was the first wave of emotions that hit me like a ton of bricks.

 

I can’t explain the exact feeling or pinpoint why I was crying, but as silently as possible, I sobbed my heart out.

 

Kristen, almost reading my brain, texted to make sure it was okay she had posted the photo. I let her know the overwhelming feelings I was experiencing along with the joy and amazement of God’s hand throughout this experience.

 

I have always felt, and will continue to tell them that my heart trusts and knows they are guided by God and whatever they do, I am ok with. Our social workers have always told us how sensitive we were to one another and with God as our lead, there has been nothing but beautiful responses to each other’s words and actions. Pretty profound relationship to be honest.

 

My mom and I started out our morning with coffee and a bible reading that lead to more tears of reflection on God’s grace and glory. There was something about those sweet hours with my mom as she read Psalms 33 to me. I was still holding up pretty tough emotionally besides my early morning meltdown, but she cracked at the words she read.

 

 

I decided it was time to get ready and take a step towards feeling normal again. I put on my makeup, freshened up and changed back into my summer dress I had come in. Coping wise, I felt back to Caitlin. Next, was to visit Lincoln. I craved to see him, to look at him, touch him, which I feel is only natural after delivering a baby, and couldn’t imagine a situation that wasn’t as open as ours, allowing me the freedom to do so.

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption

 

 

I had woken up feeling pretty yucky and sore bodywise though. I couldn’t really stand up straight and my back was feeling where that epidural had gone in. I was also experiencing a lot of pain in my stomach area, mostly cramping, so I waited until I got my pain meds and we headed over to have our Jonathan, Kristen and Lincoln fix while we enjoyed breakfast.

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption

Jonathan’s parents and youngest sister came to visit, followed by a later visit from Kristen’s mom, who brought Lucy and a family friend. My grandma and Aunt also came at that time and the day was spent surrounded in family and fellowship. It really couldn’t have been more perfect. Feeling left out, Kristen’s dad sent me a video introducing himself and the two youngest grandbabies next to Lincoln. Getting to experience the family this child will be raised in and around is mind blowing. Words cannot express how blessed this child will be. The love shown to me and my family by each and every individual we met was so amazing that I can’t even imagine what he is going to get to experience!

 

My mom and I headed back to our room in hopes to get me checked out before it was too late, but there was no way they were letting me go that day and ended up keeping both Lincoln and I an extra day.  

I convinced my mom that she should go home, shower and rest. Then, since Lincoln and I were both having to stay that extra night, she could bring Noah back for a visit when she picks me up in the morning. She finally agreed, and after eating dinner with Jonathan, Kristen and I headed out.

 

There really was no quiet minute I had spent by myself so I took advantage of this opportunity to excitedly write out the birth story while it was fresh in my brain. I had my Holy Spirit Pandora station playing, the tv on and bounced from writing to watching to scrolling through Instagram. I wasn’t visited by a nurse, unless I called or it was time to be given medications which allowed for a peaceful, uninterrupted time of great writing.

 

Periodically I would check the time on my cockeyed clock hanging on the wall across from my bed and spent my time soaking in the thoughts that came with recalling all the moments that built the story.  It wasn’t until around 11:30 I stopped writing, set my phone aside and turned off the lights to go to sleep.

 

BAM! It was like my emotions had waited until that exact moment to flood themselves into my heart and mind.

 

They came with such force and broke me to the core. Weeping, I turned back on my radio and wrote through the tears.  

 

One truly does not understand the word bittersweet until experienced. That second night alone in the hospital really tore my heart out. The waves of emotion that presented themselves were defiantly nine months worth and then some. Not that regret or resentment played a role, but a sweet and painful breaking of my heart made tears that endlessly poured for hours. I would weave between catching breath and reminding myself that God had allowed my heart to feel and heal for the night and that joy would come in the morning.

 

To heal there must be pain.

 

I had finally come full circle in this process and was truly experiencing the crux. I didn’t hold back, well, probably because I couldn’t.

 

I allowed myself the vulnerable freedom to feel completely.

 

I do have to admit I wanted it to be over, I wanted my family, I wanted my Noah and to be surrounded in love. Every cascading, majestic mountaintop must have a valley to accentuate it’s glory. I had made it up, enjoyed the beautiful peak and had now reached the lowest part of the valley to finish this chapter.

 

I was being shaped for sure. It takes my breath away just thinking about it.

 

As one of the most heaviest moments of my life, I have new respect for God, and what His heart must have felt when He gave the world his only son and watched him hang on that cross. When you place your baby, you don’t think or prepare that a certain type of grieving takes place and that your heart, no matter how strong and solid you are in your decision, must break to move forward towards a better life.

 

God changed me that night. He softened my heart and strengthened my mind. He comforted and saturated me in His presence. He made it obvious He was holding me through this and that I had reached the end of myself.

 

I had titled the piece of writing, RAW.jpeg since it was the rawest picture of myself God has ever brought me to.

 

In the midst of the flood of tears, Gaile had sent a text with a link to the photo album of Lincoln’s birth she had just finished editing and posted. Sobbing, I got through about half the photos and had to praise God that He had orchestrated such a powerful experience. From ICA to Jonathan and Kristen to my new job, school, the nurses, the labor and delivery. There wasn’t one moment I would change. God was real. He was showing me He was. Through the second wave of tears, I continued to pray, praise and thank Him.

 

It did feel forever before I finally fell asleep but when I did, I slept good and though I woke up with puffy eyes, there was joy in heart and I felt renewed. God was good. As painful as it was, it was needed and it needed to happen when I was alone. It needed to be raw and real. It was part of my recovery.

 

Jonathan ran to grab breakfast while Kristen and I enjoyed our few last moments of “dorm life” as Kristen called it.

 

Today was the day we got to all go home, so we parted ways to pack up. Seeing Noah walk through my door was the best part of that day. As we walked to see Lincoln, I could feel Noah’s excitement building. Kristen had asked earlier if there was anything important she should say to Noah when he came. I shared how he really didn’t want to loose his role as a big brother and from the moment she set Lincoln on him, both her and Jonathan  showered him with so much love and support affirming his role as a big brother. I nervously kept checking to make sure he felt comfortable holding him and he had no interest of stopping. He loved him and was so stoked to be there and have him in his arms. It was pretty amazing to watch.

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption Noah

We kissed Lincoln goodbye, gave our rounds of hugs and said, “see you later.”

 

On our way out of the hospital, we ran into Nancy, the nurse that admitted me into triage. Funny how she began and ended my hospital visit there. We stopped to chat and she let me know she kept coming to check on me throughout my progress and made it a point to give me a big hug and write my blog down.

 

We stopped by Panera for lunch and I FINALLY got my cherry pie, well it was really a danish, but close enough! On our way home, I felt every bump and was still pretty tender and sore when sitting and still moved slowly when walking. Right when we got home, my mom helped me get into the shower and I have to say, it was one of the best showers of my life. My recommendation for after delivery is a Costco size replenishment of Dermoplast and Witch Hazel pads. Besides that life changing shower, a nice, comfy pair of unattractive underwear, those two life savers will set anyone up for a happy recovery.

 

Postpartum Recovery AdoptionI had boughten a Bellefit postpartum girdle to help with my body deswelling and hopefully regain my figure faster. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit those first few days but with my mom’s help, me laying on my bed and lots of laughs, we got me into it by day four. My milk didn’t come in until the third day but we had started my binding the day before.

 

I looked and felt like I was bursting at the seams from every direction and had so many dang layers constricting my body I could barely breath. When my milk did come it, it came with a vengeance. My chest was rock solid. I probably could’ve fed a village! For about a week straight I was layering cabbage leaves, sports bra and binding on one another to stop the milk production. The cabbage leaves I think were the miracle workers. I was going through almost a whole cabbage in a day and half and had gotten it down to a science. Breaking the cabbage leaves off so they stay in a cup like form was the hardest part but once you rinse the leaves, wet paper towels to put in between each leaf and refrigerate them, they provided the best relief. The binding did help keep the pressure more bearable. I did have to continue taking my Motrin since it was hard to sleep and at times just painful. Leaking was pretty minimal since the only time any part of my body saw the light of day was to shower and then it was back to the daily bind.

 

 

Noah kept me pretty busy throughout the past two weeks and I don’t how I could have done it without him by my side. Since I was unable to drive for this time, my mom made it a point to always offer and kept my stockpile of daily needs replenished and available.

 

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption

 

Kristen has been sending me Lincoln and family updates every couple of days and Noah and I sent Lincoln a one week happy birthday video. Keeping the communication has been a huge blessing and has helped Noah and I bond as we both ooh and aw over the pictures.

 

I did lay low the first week and now, hitting the official two week postpartum mark as of today, I am feeling really good both physically and mentally. Hormonally there has been a few up and downs, but keeping the right mindset and apologizing for when it becomes irritation helps keep me in check.

 

This last Thursday, I met our ICA workers at Marie Calendars for breakfast to officially sign off my rights. The state documents that had to be read to me were strictly legal. The terminology would say my baby, not the baby and straight up made you feel like you didn’t care about the baby, not that you wanted the best for the baby you were placing. At first, it was like a stab each time a statement was read. The emotions that came after that meeting were heavy and it took a couple days to reset my mind but, through the constant support and love from God, my family, friends and Jonathan and Kristen I have been given a new song in my heart.

 

I know, without a doubt, Lincoln is exactly where he should be. God knew, before the beginning of time, his parents were Jonathan and Kristen Whitmore. He knew I was to be the vessel, and that this precious little boy was the key to a life changing story.

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption

 

 

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Birth Day!

Pregnancy Birth Story Labor Delivery

 

I stood there looking at my go bag by the front door debating if I should just put it in the car or not. Wasn’t like he obviously was coming out anytime soon. I had been living the past two weeks doing all that I could to help urge this little guy into making his debut. Every meal was doused with Tabasco, I wholeheartedly detailed my car inside and out, washed the dog, walked to get donuts with Noah, swam laps and even took a couple bike rides but no show yet.

 

Why not? All the more ready to rock for game day. As I started walking away, I paused to turn and mull over if I should also take the present my momma and I had gotten for Lincoln. Deciding it was smart to keep them together, we headed out the door around 10:00 am.

 

Noah had left early that morning for VBS and my mom and I fully intended to get through a day of errands. We hit staples, grabbed some lunch at Rubios, and decided to swing by the hospital I was intending to deliver at for a quick check up on babe and me. We figured it was one day past my due date and the increasing pressure I had been feeling in my pelvic area was the perfect nonchalant excuse to get an update.

 

To be honest, it probably was just to kill some boredom waiting time.

 

At the hospital, the babe cleared with perfect vitals, as did I, and was told dilation was at a mere 2 cm. On her way out, while stripping each glove off,  the doctor confidently told me “You are not having a baby today, but you do need to drive out to the Riverside County Medical Center (RCMC) and set up a date to be induced. I can’t schedule inductions here and don’t want you floating around out there without a doctor and a plan.”

 

Since 32 weeks I had been working on getting transferred to any doctor. Sadly, the clinic I was at dropped the ball and attempted to transfer me too late in the game. Out of the five local OBGYNs, two couldn’t fit in another June delivery, one only takes on new patients at 28 weeks and the last two denied me because it was in my records I was placing for adoption. This left the Riverside County Medical Center in Moreno Valley, which I dreaded.

 

I was adamant and verbally expressed multiply times that I would not be delivering there when it was brought up from the beginning of the transfer process. I didn’t want to make the drive first off and the thought of a county hospital made me cringe.

 

At 38 weeks, my clinic told me, due to insurance purposes I could not come for my weekly appointments anymore, but, if anything happened, I was free to go to the local hospital to get checked up or deliver. Ok, fine. At this point I was so over the fight, felt discouraged by the whole situation and knew God wouldn’t leave Lincoln and I hanging.

 

I would have not been too worried about it but the only thing that bugged me was, it wasn’t my baby, and I had a duty to deliver him to his dad and mom safe and sound.

 

It was now 2:30pm on my car clock and my mom and I had just exited Cactus Rd. off the 215. Ew, Cactus Rd. I hate cactus. The whole 5 miles from the exit to the hospital I had nothing nice to say about the surrounding area and humorously joked that God had totally Jonah and the whaled me here.

 

We sat for three hours crammed in the itsy, bitsy labor and delivery waiting room. It was getting to be 6 o’clock and we were not only hungry but planning an exciting visit to Polly’s Pies on the way home. Walking to the front desk, I asked when I was going to be seen and reassured them I wasn’t trying to be induced or have a baby, I just needed to speak to someone about planning for a future delivery. Those must have been the magic words, because a couple minutes later, my name was called and I was walked to a triage bed. The nurse, Nancy, who was now working overtime, joined me as we took a seat on the bed to review my records I had brought. She discovered that my real due date wasn’t until the next day, the 14th, based off the 12 week ultrasound documented. Interesting.  

Pausing after a thoughtful consideration, her solution was to hop on the bed and that a second check up wouldn’t hurt.

 

I changed into a gown, got body checked, vital checked, baby checked and gave my medical history lowdown to Nick, a student physician’s assistant to input into the computer. Nancy and Nick both nonchalantly dropped that I had made a big jump to 4 cm in a short time. Both had also brushed over that I might not be leaving and to hang tight while they waited for the doctors orders. Completely discrediting their subtle hints, my mom and I continued to discuss our dinner plans.

 

Couple minutes later, Nancy swished open the curtain and with a smile on her face and nod of her head says, “You ready to have a baby? I mean, not til after midnight, but you are going to have a baby today.”

 

Shocked, my mom and I looked at each other in utter disbelief. This was happening, and hysterically, it was happening here. I asked her if she was serious and if I should contact my people. Reality obviously had not hit yet, even after hearing those words. It was honestly the last thing I expected. She laughed, gave me the go and mixed me up a celebratory cocktail of 7up and cranberry juice paired with graham crackers.  They didn’t have a room ready yet so I was told to, snack, walk and call while waiting.

 

I called Jonathan and Kristen, and in a calm tone told them I was calling to let them know that I just happened to be at a couple check ups that day and that RCMC just happened to be keeping me ….aanndd that today was probably the day they were going to meet their baby. With excitement Kristen screamed, “REALLY?!” and expressed they would wait for as long as they could, pack and then be on their way! I kept saying, “no rush,” but she adamantly told me they were not going to miss a second of it!

Labor and Delivery Room

 

After a final confirmation check from resident Dr. Solomon and nurse Andy, I was told my room was ready! I was moved to a beautiful labor and delivery room with big windows featuring a gorgeous sunset and mountain views. As my mom explained to my dad the day’s happenings, she gave him the needs list he was to bring for the long-haul and I began texting my Doula, Aunt and ICA social worker a quarter to eight.

 

 

Watching the last bit of the sunset, I soaked up reality and felt myself beaming with joy as I danced around the room. Today WAS the day, who knew?!

 

Andy started me with a hibiclense shower and throughout my admitting questions expressed some of her family members had brought up the idea of adoption, which was just the beginning of the coincidences coming.

 

My dad was the first to arrive, shortly followed by Jonathon and Kristen. The ICA social workers and my Doula were next to arrive along with my aunt. We exchanged presents and enjoyed a sweet time of all visiting together.

 

Pregnancy Birth Story Labor Delivery

I was introduced to Violetta, my nurse, who told me it was time to get in bed and hooked up to an IV. Since I wasn’t interested in getting an epidural until after 5cm, my Doula, Violetta and myself worked out a plan to walk the hallways for a half hour before cementing myself to the hospital bed. Sweetly, Violetta reluctantly agreed to the plan and gave Gaile an awesome opportunity to start her photography documenting the birth.

Pregnancy Birth Story Labor Delivery

 

Gaile, my doula, was a connection sparked by a dear friend whose son has been in the same class as Noah since kindergarten. She wanted to get me something and Gaile, from one of her mom’s groups, offered her services as a gift.  Knowing what a blessing it was, but not understanding the vital need for a Doula, I was over the moon by her generous offer of kindness and support in the final weeks prior. She was expected to have surgery the week of my due date but it had been rescheduled for September. Interesting, right? She not only offered me labor and delivery preparation, but an empowering knowledge of risks and benefits of hospital practices that take place during labor and delivery. She gave me the whole package, and included birth photography, placenta encapsulation and prepared a detailed birth plan for the hospital staff, while also reaching out to involve Kristen. It was an amazing and unexpected blessing.

 

 

Gaile and I were finishing up the session of walking when Kristin had slipped out to give me the heads up hospital policy only allows two visitors, aka clear out the party in room 3309. So my dad left, and Jonathon and Kristen joined our ICA workers in the waiting room to appease the situation.

 

They started me on an IV at 11:15 pm, which hurt like heck and was planted on my right hand. I have to say that was one of the more negative memories of the night since I was highly sensitive to each beginning pump of new fluid and cringed when the bags were changed out and in. Dr. Tustinson was on night shift until 7 am and explained her plan of water breakage then pitocin if no progress had happened. Another cool adoption connection was that she had earlier shared with my momma her brother had just adopted two and that weekend, the family was celebrating the finalization.

 

Dr. Tustinson and the team came in at 11:41 for a check and because I was still at  5 cm and now 90% effaced, it was time to break the water in hopes to pick up the pace.

 

Dr. Kore, a rad 28 year old lady anesthesiologist, who also happened to be adopted, had swung by a couple times to gauge when I wanted my epidural and recommended now was probably the best time. Not wanting to miss my opportunity for a happier delivery and with contractions becoming more steady, around 12:45 she placed the epidural. Now and with Noah, this part was probably the worst memory of all. As I hugged the pillow, trying to relax and breath through the process, the waves of hormonal body shakes (just natural during labor) made it ridiculously hard to keep still. Just like the IV, I felt every injection of new fluid enter my back and it was painful.

 

Pregnancy Birth Story Labor DeliveryAt 1:45, I was between 5 -6 cm and was tucked in for a nap. Awaking to the baby’s monitor going off at 2:57, he had reached an alarming deceleration of 4 min and contractions for some reason started spacing out, so the team started me on a steady drip of pitocin but ended up stopping it due to baby not liking it. A check showed I was still at 5 cm, so a dose of Terbutaline to slow contractions and figure out what was going on with baby lead to an even bigger team surrounding my bed 3 minutes later.

 

Being strapped with an oxygen mask, I was told I needed to get on my hands and knees. . . With zero feeling in my lower half and 5000 pound legs but, game for anything, I asked the only logical question that came to mind, “How do you want me to get there?” Working together, we did it. Nine months pregnant, windows wide open and a hospital gown that not only didn’t close up in the back but refused to cover my exposure, I had to take a second to soak up the embarrassment and crack up. Taking a deep breath, I gathered myself and by 3:07 baby was safely back on the monitor and me back in bed.

Pregnancy Birth Story Labor Delivery

 

With internal monitoring being far more accurate than external, the team said they would be able measure the strength of my contractions, keep a closer eye on baby’s heart rate and find a safe level of pitocin for the both of us. Now 3:15 and the internal monitors in, I measured at 7 cm, 80% effaced, -2 station. Taking a moment to relax, I visited with Gaile, my momma and Aunt, ate ice chips, which were simply blissful, and shifted pelvic positions using a peanut ball to help wiggle the little guy down.

 

By 4:27, I felt like I had a cantaloupe hammocked in my lady parts and had a slight headache coming on. Now between 8 – 9 cm, the baby was down to a -1! PROGRESS!

 

 

Continuing to change positions, the 6:30 check had me at 9.5 cm, 100% effaced, 0 station. The next check at 8:11 showed no change and I was now sitting up in hopes this would bring the baby lower down the cervix. With a shift change happening, Violetta gave a round of hugs to the whole room and passed the baton to Shari, my new delivery nurse.

Inside Out Birth Story

 

I started laboring down and giving a couple practice pushes around 9:30. With a little help from Shari, I was able to make a little more progress but was starting to feel nauseous, regain leg movement and the pressure building up was becoming intensely uncomfortable. At this, the new anesthesiologist on shift granted me the pleasure of crafting quite a cocktail of Fentanyl and who knows what. I don’t know how long I felt like I was tripping out for, but I have to say it scared me to the point I asked my mom and Kristen to pray with me. I felt drugged and mentally loopy. The only way I could explain it to the room was that I felt like I was in abstract thought from Inside Out. OF COURSE, no one knew what I was talking about but I came out just fine an hour later and started a very peaceful time of rest and snacking on ice chips.

 

After a quick visit from Jonathon and Kristen to see how I was doing, the baby’s monitors started going off and continued to for longer than expected. Two nurses flew through the door and to my bedside. They let me know baby wasn’t recovering from a decel and that we needed to start rocking me from side to side. At this, the charge nurse called for the doctor. Urgency hit the room like a tornado, and the room flooded with the doctor, nurses and the nicu team. The nurse asked me to hold my legs and I felt the first of my tears slide down my face. It was time. All I could say was, “Someone get Kristen!”

 

Gaile had sent her a text to get here and get her gown on ASAP at 11:42.   

 

The doctor, stepped up and smiled, I, as silly as ever, threw up my hand for a handshake and said, “I’m Caitlin.” Laughing, he put up his gloved hands in the air like, I’m sanitary, your not, duhh. As calm as ever, he asked me to move my hips up. I did it without thinking and he responded, “Ok, good, you’re a strong one. Are you familiar with vacuums?” I said I had them with my first and he nodded in approval and asked me if I was ready, telling me to push.

This was one of the most surreal moments of my life. It felt like no one else was in the room except for the doctor and I. We had close to 20 people in that delivery room but I was in such a peaceful place after I saw Kristen race into the room seconds before that first push. He told me to push again, this time a good one. I heard someone say the head is out and he calmly told me to stop, the umbilical cord had gotten wrapped and he needed to cut it. Seconds later, locking eyes, he told me that this was it, couple more pushes and Lincoln was out.

 

Lincoln was beautiful, and so perfect. No one could hold their tears back.

Pregnancy Birth Story Labor Delivery
Five minutes after, Kristen was given immediate skin to skin contact. I did have a first degree tear so after the final stitch up and getting myself into a decent sitting position, Jonathon was beckoned in, joining Kristen and Lincoln, while I satisfyingly enjoyed a long deserved vanilla pudding.

We were then given one amazing hour together to soak up the sweetness of life. Gaile mentioned that the love in the room was so thick, you could cut it with a knife and I could not agree with her more.

BIRTHSTORY6Pregnancy Birth Story Labor DeliveryPregnancy Birth Story Labor Delivery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy Birth Labor Delivery Pregnancy Birth Labor Delivery  Pregnancy Birth Labor Delivery

 

Pregnancy Birth Labor Delivery

 

Follow the link to check out the complete album of Gaile’s photography!

Made of Miracles Photography – Welcome baby Lincoln

I’m an open book so please don’t hesitate any hankering to question or comment :))

Do stay tuned for the coming postpartum story and follow me as I move through the newest, realest chapters of life as a birthmom among everything else!

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Adoption Story Blog

It begins in my bathroom around 9 pm. I had a feeling from the moment I woke up but it wasn’t until now that I finally had the chance to confirm the gut wrenching reality. Before the two minute timer broke the silence, the double solid lines could not have made themselves more prominent.

 

I was pregnant.

 

I dropped the stick as my heart dropped, tears poured and I held my humiliated face in my hands. How could I have been so stupid?!

 

In the beginning of 2015, I had made a bold move back into my parents house and left a position that not only secured my independence but gave me a great social life. I had worked hard to get where I was but I wanted to be and do more. God’s still, small voice had been prompting me to leave it all behind and to not miss the opportunity He had for me just around the corner. How do I know it was God? Countless times I was told by people I didn’t belong where I was and should pursue my passion.

 

So I trusted and made the leap of faith.

 

As I weaved between unpromising local jobs while balancing a chalk art business, I began feeling myself slipping into a dark place of anger and resentment for the choice I had made. I developed a bratty thought pattern of, OK God, I trusted you, where is this future and hope you promised?! It was hard to accept that the reward on the other side of the leap wasn’t instantaneous.

 

Confiding in a friend, I was jokingly encouraged to not worry but to get out of town and let loose. Of course, the only piece of the conversation that stuck was to let loose and I did just that. Loose was an understatement, I don’t know who I thought I was! I straight up partied too hard and found myself four weeks at the beginning of this story.  

 

That was 37 life changing weeks ago. I smile now as I look back and realize that it was the only way I could have gotten to where I am today. If only I had known that it was for such a time as this that I was created for.

 

The beginning of a life changing adoption story

Partnering the pain of the decision I had made and the outcome it had brought me to, I sat broken and sobbing in my bathroom. Vividly, I once again heard God whisper ever so gently, Adoption. This is not your baby. It hit me like V8, it wasn’t my baby. Yes, I had made the stupid decision. Yes, I would have to bear my scarlet letter for a short time, but why not place the baby to someone who wants one? I didn’t want a baby, I wasn’t in any place to be a single mom of two, jobless, living at my parents and going through a divorce. I foresaw a destitute road when I thought about it.

Adoption

 

Not only was I adopted but I was given an amazing life through being placed for adoption. My birthmom wanted to give me a life with a mom and a dad, as I wanted for this baby.

 

It was a God thing because I love being a mom.

 

To be honest, thank God I am fertile because I cannot wait to get married and have more babies but this one, in particular, my heart had been prepared that I was just a vessel for.  

 

It was coming into the week of my mom’s birthday and I sure couldn’t bring myself to drop the bomb until after. I had only told a handful including the birth father who disagreed with my decision and soon fell out of the picture altogether.

 

forsuchatimeasthisblog International Christian Adoption

As I gathered my information from adoption clinics, it was International Christian Adoption that stood out to me. From the minute I called and the first meeting with my assigned worker I was kindly reassured that no matter the outcome I would be supported. When I did share the news with my parents the disappointment could be felt a mile away but the encouragement and unconditional love expressed, even to this day, has been incredible.

 

In early December three family photo books were placed in front of me. It was time to choose the parents! I was stoked! Personally, because I had taken such a numb response to the situation, it was a sweet relief. I had been looking forward to confirming my role as a birthmom. Unemotionally, I flipped through the first album but kept looking at a turquoise one still sitting across the table. It was when I  took it in my hands that I knew I had found the family.

 

I was two pages in and started reading Jonathan describe Kristen when I was overcome with emotion. The tears flooded. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t turn the page. My brain raced repeatedly She is the mom. She’s the grown up version of me. There couldn’t be anyone more perfect for this baby. Not only did we look alike but I knew we’d have the same heart and soul.  

Whitmore Family

Everything they did as a family was the same thing I did in mine and with Noah. Courteously I looked through the third book but knew for a fact it was the Whitmore Family.    

 

Adoptive Parents & International Christian Adoption

 

My nerves were jolting the first time I talked to them on the phone the following weekend. I cannot describe how just hearing their voices confirmed my choice. We met for the first time December 23rd over lunch with our ICA workers. Between the time that had passed, I had applied, interviewed and was hired to be an Instructional Aide at my son’s elementary school along with starting an undergraduate degree program to be an elementary teacher at Grand Canyon University.

 

Life was changing.  

 

 

The instant connection I made with Jonathan and Kristen over lunch established a foundation like none other. Kristen made sure to text me weekly to see how I was doing, as I did with doctor and belly updates. On February 4th we planned to find out if it was a boy or a girl and I met them at Unique Ultrasound.

IT WAS A BOY!!

Unique Ultrasound Gender Ultrasound

 

Noah and Lucy Adoption Story

 

The following weekend I spent visiting a friend in San Luis Obispo finishing up his last few months at Cal Poly. Who knew, but that was where Kristin and Jonathan had gone to college and met. On February 20th they drove out with seven year old Lucy to meet my family and Noah who also happens to be seven. Not only did Lucy and Noah hit it off but the time spent together allowed for us to candidly talk about the adoption and life afterwards.

 

International Christian Adoption

 

May 17th we met with our ICA workers to clarify the final details including delivery day and the legal aspects of what is expected. I was told his name was chosen to be Lincoln Joel Whitmore and shared how happy I was to put an official name with the belly movements since Noah’s second grade class was calling him Anakin, my mom had picked Joshua when she talked to the belly and the let loose friend had named him after himself! Wrapping up the meeting and walking out together only sealed the deal. It was official.

 

The next time we would all be together would be D-Day!  

 

Currently it is June 7th and the due date is set for June 12th. As this chapter comes to a close with a nice waddle, swollen feet and a belly that feels like it’s going to drop out, words can’t express how thankful I am for this experience and totally excited for what is in store for the future! 

Adoption Story Pregnancy

 

 

I’m an open book so please don’t hesitate any hankering to question or comment :))

Do stay tuned for the coming birth story of little Lincoln and follow me as I move through the newest, realest chapters of life as a birthmom among everything else!

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